Middlebury

 

Honors Thesis Requirements

General Procedures

An International Politics and Economics (IPE) Honors Thesis is undertaken over the course of two terms. Normally, this will be Fall/Winter, or Winter/Spring, though with permission of the advisors it may be Spring/Fall or Fall/Spring.

We strongly recommend that (1) students begin thinking about their thesis project and speaking with potential advisors in their junior year, (2) students who plan to write a thesis also enroll in PSCI 0368 and/or ECON 0211 before registering for IPEC 0700. To launch a thesis project, students must register for IPEC 0700 with the approval of both an Economics and a Political Science advisor. For deadlines and a timetable, see "Deadlines" below. With permission of their advisors, an IPE thesis candidate may begin his or her project by enrolling in an independent study project (IPEC 0500) in the term preceding the first thesis term. Thesis students must subsequently register for IPEC 0700 to pursue the thesis project.


Requirements

In order to qualify for writing a thesis, students must have a cumulative 3.3 average or better in their IPE courses taken at Middlebury. All Middlebury College courses that can count for the IPE major (see the Courses web page) will be used to calculate the IPE course grade point average. No exception will be made to this requirement.


Background

Students are solely responsible for coming up with thesis topics. Those contemplating writing a thesis are strongly encouraged to search for topics during their junior year. They should either take seminars or conduct independent study projects in order to come up with research ideas. Students should also use their seminars and projects to cultivate potential advisors well in advance of the actual thesis writing process.

If students are spending their junior year abroad, they should contact potential advisors via email. In this way, students are encouraged to keep their advisors apprised of their research interests well before they arrive back on campus in their senior year.


Advisory Process

Students need to have two advisors, one in the political science department and the other in the economics department. Each potential thesis-writer must formally notify the IPE director of his or her choices at the end of the first week of classes as stated in the "Deadlines" timetable below. It is up to the students to seek out and schedule appointments with their advisors during the thesis writing process. Students are required to schedule a joint meeting with both advisors at least two times during the thesis process. The first meeting must take place no later than the end of the second week of the first term of the 0700-level thesis project. This meeting will serve to establish communications between the advisors and the student. The second meeting must be scheduled between submitting the First Draft Prospectus and Bibliography and the Final Prospectus and Bibliography. Students should contact both faculty members early to find times convenient to everyone.

In addition to these two advisors, students may seek another advisor from outside of these departments if this is necessary for their research. In order to make this addition, formal approval is required by the two main advisors.


Research Design

All IPE theses need to be absolutely clear on the following three points. First, students should clarify their question or puzzle, and show how and in what ways it fits into a specific theoretical literature in economics and/or political science. They should also clarify why anyone should care about their puzzle or question. Second, students should identify the most prominent explanations to answer their question or solve their puzzle. They can either use the theoretical literature to derive explanations or offer a new logically consistent explanation on their own. Instead of simply listing explanations or hypotheses, students should focus, above all, on making an argument. Third, students need to collect evidence that allows them to support their argument and refute competing explanations.

As a guide, students should consult Stephen Van Evera, Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science (Cornell University Press, 1997), and Thomas l. Wyrick, The Economist's Handbook: A Research and Writing Guide (West Publishing Company, 1994).


Thesis Prospectus

Generally, a thesis prospectus should: (a) define the research question(s) to be answered in the thesis; (b) explain the intellectual importance of the thesis: and (c) outline how the project will be completed, i.e., sources and methodology which make it clear how evidence will be gathered and assessed. The prospectus should be approximately 2000-2500 words long.

Both the First Draft Prospectus and Bibliography and the Final Prospectus and Bibliography should be turned in simultaneously to your two advisors. A third copy must be submitted to the IPE director.


Style/Format

All IPE theses should have the following parts in order: (1) A title page, identifying the title of the thesis and the name of the author, date, "Senior Thesis in International Politics and Economics, Middlebury College"; (2) acknowledgements; (3) a table of contents, identifying parts, chapters, etc., in the thesis; (4) an abstract of no more than 300 words, which identifies the main question and argument, summarizes the key evidence, and puts forth the conclusion; (5) body of the text (where chapters are used, each chapter must begin on a new page); and (6) a bibliography or reference list.

The thesis should be printed double-spaced, with adequate margins. The expected length of the thesis should be determined in consultation with advisors. Article-length theses of 30-40 pages are appropriate for certain projects, and have the advantage of being eligible for submission to student academic journals. Many theses range in length from 70-90 pages, with an average of 250-300 words per page. A few will require more space than that. Footnotes should be at the bottom of the page, not at the end of chapters or the thesis.

Students should make absolutely certain to cite all sources, whether primary or secondary. For advice on citations, please see go/citations. When in doubt about how to cite properly, students should consult their advisors.

Upon completion, please provide a bound copy of your thesis to your advisors. A third copy must also be submitted in PDF format to the IPE coordinator to be forwarded to Davis Family Library for cataloging.


Honors/Regulation

In order to receive Honors, students must meet ALL of the deadlines as set out below. Failure to meet the deadlines for the thesis prospectus, the first writing draft, the penultimate draft, or the final version of the thesis will result in the denial of Honors.

The thesis grade is based on a written thesis and an oral defense. The grade will be based on the quality of the written thesis as well as the oral defense.

The determination of Honors, High Honors, and Highest Honors is based on (1) the level of the grade achieved on the thesis and (2) the level of the average grade received in Middlebury College IPE courses. Note that courses taken abroad do not count toward the grade point determination, but all Middlebury College courses that can count for the IPE major (see the Courses web page) will be used to calculate the IPE course grade point average. Honor candidates must have an IPE course average of 3.3 and a thesis grade of B+ to achieve Honors; an IPE course average of at least 3.5 and a thesis grade of A- or higher to attain High Honors; and an IPE course average of at least 3.7 and a thesis grade of A to attain Highest Honors.

Any appeal of a thesis grade, or the award of honors, shall be made to the IPE director.


Deadlines

Theses will normally be Fall/Winter, or Winter/Spring, though with permission of the advisors they may be Spring/Fall or Fall/Spring. Failure to meet deadlines will result in the denial of Honors.

2014-2105.5 Deadlines

Fall/Winter Theses

Declaration of Thesis Advisors (via email to the IPE Director): End of the first week of classes
September 12, 2014

First joint meeting with both advisors: Coordinated by students before the end of the second week of classes
By September 19, 2014

First Draft of Prospectus and Bibliography to advisors and IPE Director: End of third week of classes
September 26, 2014

Second joint meeting with both advisors: Scheduled by students between submitting First Draft of Prospectus and Bibliography and Final Prospectus and Bibliography
Before October 10, 2014

Final Prospectus and Bibliography to advisors and IPE Director: End of fifth week of classes
October 10, 2014

Draft of First Section (length and content to be negotiated with advisors): End of eighth week of classes
October 31, 2014

Penultimate Draft of Full Thesis: End of last day of fall term exam period
December 14, 2014

Final Version of Full Thesis: End of second week of winter term classes
January 16, 2015

Oral Defense: No later than the Wednesday of the last week of winter term classes
By January 28, 2015

Winter/Spring Theses

Declaration of Thesis Advisors (via email to the IPE Director): End of the third day of classes
January 7, 2015

First joint meeting with both advisors: Coordinated by students before the end of the second week of classes
By January 16, 2015

First Draft of Prospectus and Bibliography to advisors and IPE Director: End of third week of winter term classes
January 23, 2015

Second joint meeting with both advisors: Scheduled by students between submitting First Draft of Prospectus and Bibliography and Final Prospectus and Bibliography
Before February 13, 2015

Final Prospectus and Bibliography to advisors and IPE Director: End of first week of spring term classes
February 13, 2015

Draft of First Section (length and content to be negotiated with advisors): End of fourth week of spring term classes
March 6, 2015

Penultimate Draft of Full Thesis: End of eighth week of spring term classes
April 10, 2015

Final Version of Full Thesis: Monday of the last full week of spring term classes
May 8, 2015

Oral Defense: No later than the Friday of the week following submission of the Final Version
May 15, 2015

Fall/Spring Theses

Declaration of Thesis Advisors (via email to the IPE Director): End of the first week of classes
September 12, 2014

First joint meeting with both advisors: Coordinated by students before the end of the second week of classes
By September 19, 2014

First Draft of Prospectus and Bibliography to advisors and IPE Director: End of third week of classes
September 26, 2014

Second joint meeting with both advisors: Scheduled by students between submitting First Draft of Prospectus and Bibliography and Final Prospectus and Bibliography
Before October 10, 2014

Final Prospectus and Bibliography to advisors and IPE Director: End of fifth week of classes
October 10, 2014

Draft of First Section (length and content to be negotiated with advisors): End of tenth week of classes
November 14, 2014

Penultimate Draft of Full Thesis: End of eighth week of spring term classes
April 10, 2015

Final Version of Full Thesis: Monday of the last full week of spring term classes
May 8, 2015

Oral Defense: No later than the Friday of the week following submission of the Final Version
May 15, 2015

Spring/Fall Theses

Declaration of Thesis Advisors (via email to the IPE Director): End of the first week of classes
February 13, 2015

First joint meeting with both advisors: Coordinated by students before the end of the second week of classes
By February 20, 2015

First Draft of Prospectus and Bibliography to advisors and IPE Director: End of third week of classes
February 27, 2015

Second joint meeting with both advisors: Scheduled by students between submitting First Draft of Prospectus and Bibliography and Final Prospectus and Bibliography
Before March 13, 2015

Final Prospectus and Bibliography to advisors and IPE Director: End of fifth week of classes
March 13, 2015

Draft of First Section (length and content to be negotiated with advisors): End of tenth week of classes
April 24, 2015

Penultimate Draft of Full Thesis: End of eighth week of fall term classes
Date TBD

Final Version of Full Thesis: Monday of the last full week of fall term classes
Date TBD

Oral Defense: No later than the Friday of the week following submission of the Final Version
Date TBD